DFS Roundtable: Streamlined Saints or Giants?

Which suddenly major-value situation - the Saints backfield or the Giants receiving corps - interests you more as a budget-saver? Which ultimately makes you feel better as the low-cost end of a tournament lineup you otherwise love?

The Giants were simply devastated by injury in Week 5, losing their WR1, WR2, WR3, and WR5 to various foot/ankle injuries. We know that Odell Beckham Jr Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris will be out for the rest of the season, and that Sterling Shepard looks like a longshot to suit up this weekend. That would leave second-year afterthought Roger Lewis and tight end Evan Engram as the only prominent receivers with any real NFL experience.

A mid-week trade sent Adrian Peterson out of New Orleans, leaving only two real candidates for Saints backfield work: dual-threat grinder Mark Ingram II and eruptive passing-down back Alvin Kamara. Obviously, this carries serious DFS implications, as Saints running backs routinely post RB1 weeks, and now the rotation is decidedly un-crowded.

If you're building an upside-robust GPP lineup, which of these two value situations interests you more to save money? Do you like Ingram and Kamara as low-dollar RB plays? Or are you more intrigued by the bare-cupboard Giants passing game, who will have to funnel pass targets to someone? Which situation ultimately makes you feel better as the low-cost end of a tournament lineup you otherwise love?

 

Chris Feery: Both options are intriguing for GPP purposes, but I’m more comfortable leaning towards the Saints backfield. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely avoiding Giants pass catchers, it’s just that I find more appeal in the Saints offense this week. Drew Brees and company are coming in off of a bye for a home date against the Lions, and Vegas points to the potential for a shootout. The crowded backfield became less crowded with the trade of Adrian Peterson to the Cardinals, and this makes for a fine time to go all in with a two-headed monster approach, a la the way that the Falcons successfully employ both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. That's not going to happen overnight, but the possibilities are certainly intriguing for a potentially explosive Saints offense. Of the two options in the backfield, I like Alvin Kamara for upside potential, as I can envision a scenario in which this game amounts to a coming out party for the young back.

For the Giants, a trip to Denver to take on the Broncos couldn’t come at a worse possible time. The Broncos elite-level pass defense has shown that it can shut down a fully functioning offense, so there’s no reason to believe they won’t be able to do the same with a hobbled Giants squad. That being said, you can certainly make a case for both Roger Lewis and Evan Engram for contrarian GPP purposes. While the chances of a big day from the Giants offense are hovering around nil, they won’t be completely shut down. There will be passes attempted and catches made, and these two affordable options will be the biggest beneficiaries of that. We can consider them extreme contrarian value plays that can open up a healthy chunk of salary for GPP rosters.

Jason Wood: Evan Engram is a near-must play. His ownership will be high, but his goose egg this past week will hopefully keep ownership at levels where playing him makes sense. Engram is second on the Giants with 34 targets through 5 weeks, and should become Eli Manning's favorite target going forward. Without Brandon Marshall on the field to play the short- and intermediate routes, Engram is going to be utilized throughout the route tree. 

If you are looking for a GPP flier among the receivers, it has to be Roger Lewis because he's already involved in the offense. Caveat emptor, though, because Lewis has only three targets over the last three games.

James Brimacombe: I have never been a fan of the New Orleans Saints running game, so I will be off that regardless of the increased opportunity for Ingram and Kamara. I would rather pay up for more volume-heavy running backs in better systems, such as Leonard Fournette or Todd Gurley, where they are the center of their team's offense.

I will be taking some chances on the Giants passing game in Evan Engram this week. His price is low and he is coming off a game where he did not catch a single pass, and he gets the Broncos this week. The Broncos are the 7th worst team against opposing tight ends as they have allowed an average of 6-61-0.5 to the position through 4 games. Despite last week's zero catches, Engram has been a productive pass-catcher for the Giants, receiving 30 targets for 19 receptions, 200 yards and 1 touchdown over the team's previous 4 games.

Danny Tuccitto: I'm definitively in the New Orleans running back camp here, as I have either Ingram or Kamara in 52% of my tournament lineups, whereas I have Engram or Lewis in 0%. I'll likely throw Engram into a handful of lineups based on Jason's "near must play" advocacy, but my problem is that the Giants offense is one of those two-legged stools I mentioned in a non-DFS roundtable two weeks ago. (It may actually be a one-legged stool at this point.) Certain events don't just make an offense less "good" or stable (like a four-legged stool losing a leg); they make the offense completely nonfunctional (like a three-legged stool losing a leg). One could argue the Giants offense was already on the verge of being nonfunctional even before all of these injuries. Yes, opportunity is king, and Engram especially is going to get a ton of it, but what of his upside in a nonfunctional offense?

Dan Hindery: The Saints running backs are so heavily involved in the passing game, it makes a lot of sense to target New Orleans backs on full-PPR sites like DraftKings whenever pricing is favorable. It is very favorable this week.

Since the start of the 2016 season, the Saints running backs have collectively averaged 8.2 receptions, 58 yards, and 0.55 receptions per game (17.3 PPR points). Without even accounting for a single rushing yard or rushing touchdown, the Saints backfield qualifies as an RB1 on receiving stats alone. When you add in the 100.7 rushing yards and 0.9 rushing TDs per game, the Saints backfield has averaged 32.4 PPR points per game. On DraftKings, Mark Ingram II ($4,400) and Alvin Kamara ($4,500) are only $8,900 combined. It's easy to see how one or both Saints backs could reach GPP value when priced as low as they are.

Justin Howe: Thus far this week, my favorite lineups are the full-slate wins that work in both these teams. I agree totally with Jason that Engram looks like a must-play And after last week's goose-egg, I'm willing to assume a big chunk of the DFS world has soured and moved on to one of the other dynamite TE values this week.

But I'm not interested in any other Giants. If I were to enter 50 lineups into a contest this week, I might throw in one Eli Manning-Engram stack, maybe with another Giant (Roger Lewis? Tavarres King? David Tyree? Marvin McNutt?), just in the ultra-contrarian hopes they go down 44-7 and throw 30 second-half quick slants. But I'm not investing in a Roger Lewis type. This receiving corps is shredded and re-shredded  I never thought I'd see an NFL team wish they'd kept Louis Murphy around and I don't trust a single one of them to even create room for each other, let alone find holes in the Broncos’ impassable secondary.

And, yes, I’m all over these Saints backs. At least one will be in 90% of my GPP lineups – that’s about the chance I give the Saints to produce a 13-point back this Sunday – and I’m even plugging each into a cash lineup. The guys have put it very well already: Saints backs see a ton of snaps, a lot of receptions, and boosted touchdown opportunity. It would be silly to pay in the middle tiers for this kind of outlook when two dirt-cheap Saints are sitting there.